Dr R Balashankar
CONGRESS President Sonia Gandhi hops in and out of the country as easily as jumping across blocks. All on tax payers’ money. And yet, no government department has any information on the number of times she has been abroad, the expenditure incurred and the justification for making these monthly sojourns.
An RTI filed by a person from Rajasthan sought information on the foreign travels undertaken by Sonia Gandhi in the last two years and also the travels relating to her illness. (PTI, Firstpost.com)
It was first sent to the External Affairs ministry. That ministry forwarded it to the ministry of Parliamentary Affairs. From there it was sent to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation under the provisions of RTI Act. The former had only those information relating to Sonia Gandhi’s travels as Member of Parliament and not as NAC Chairperson.
Ministry of Statistics forwarded the application to National Advisory Council with remarks that it is “not involved in any matter related to tour or trips taken by the members of the NAC or by Sonia Gandhi as UPA Chairperson at any point of time.” It suggested that the Prime Minister’s Office should have this information as it is the “custodian of information relating to all the expenditure incurred in the functioning of the NAC.”
The PMO said it had no such record. In effect, for all practical purposes, the government of India does not have any account on the money it spent on Sonia Gandhi on for innumerable trips abroad for both bonafide and other reasons. It may be recalled that there was such a tight veil of secrecy about her illness and the country’s poodle media kept reverential distance from inquiring into the issue only because Sonia Gandhi had ‘asked’ for privacy.
Hence, on the record, Sonia Gandhi never travelled abroad and the government of India did not incur any expenditure. The truth is she has been taking private chartered flights, leaving and arriving in the country without any customs check and reporting at airport and staying in the most expensive of hotels. She was abroad in last week of August, in the thick of stalemate in Parliament. The tax payers’ money was spent without accountability. Strange are the ways with the UPA and Manmohan Singh. Not only Sonia Gandhi but her daughter, son and son-in-law go abroad every month. All of them are in the list of over 20 people whose baggage is not checked and who are allowed to board and disembark in any of India’s airports without security and customs clearance.